North, but still south... the fijords of Fuegia

North, but still south... the fijords of Fuegia
North, but still south... the fijords of Fuegia

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Well, my time at South Pole is done.  It was high time to get out to somewhere warm with more than a handful of colors (and textures, smells, feels, sounds, tastes, etc) to inspire the imagination.  I arrived back in New Zealand on 2 November and hightailed it to the west coast of the south island... to the "Beach Bach".  Aptly named it was my haven for four days of sleeping, eating, dozing in the sun, eating, getting into a bed pre-warmed by an electric blanked (New Zealand's version of bedtime heaven), watching the waves, napping... it was awesome. 

Kitchen area of the Beach Bach

View out the kitchen window

The most amazing sweet warm bed upstairs in the bach

The view out the bedroom and effectively from the bed... ahhhhhhhhhhhh


Then drove up the coast to see Karamea and walk the first bit of the Heaphy Track... an otherworldly landscape of palms, tree ferns, sand, and the lushness that is New Zealand coastal forest.  Again, awesome.

Just one of the amazing west coast beaches to be found...

Tree ferns!

Wee ferns!  (well, this one really wasn't so wee-- about 5' across... but the rhyme sounded good!)

Wee moss on forest floor.  Just be glad that I'm not posting all of the macro plant photos I took.... geeking out about the small stuff was a hugely satisfying part of my vacation!

More ferns!

oh gosh, still going...

Nikau Palms, the most southerly palm species to occur in the world... they're beautiful.

Last one, enjoy them while they last!

The start (or end) of the Heaphy Track... it was an otherworldly environment with all the lushness on so many different levels.

Look for the small stuff...

Then Robert arrived in NZ, and we promptly decamped to Australia just in time to catch the solar eclipse just north of Cairns.

The astronomer-photographer getting everything just right for the totality at our beach command center just north of Palm Cove

The totality as seen through my wimpy point and shoot.  It was cool how it was dark where we were but you can see where some of the sun is still shining to the left of the photo...

A very happy astronomer-photographer (and his groupie) after a successfully-viewed full solar eclipse totality.


Then we went hiking in the Daintree Rainforest, and skipped down the coast enjoying some quiet time at an amazing B&B overlooking the sea at Yorkey's Knob, did a little diving on the outer Barrier Reef, went sailing in the Whitsundays, and had a 4x4 'adventure' tour of Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island.

Part of the rainforest schtick is that many trees develop buttress roots-- helps them get more oxygen in the typically saturated soils.  May also help w/ support in the shallow soils but apparently it's more about oxygen. 
More cool roots.

A forest dragon.  They don't move much which allowed us to get great close up photos.  It's about 3' long with tail.

Zen spot in an otherwise hostile environment... in Queensland just about everything will hurt you...

The view from our balcony at A Villa Gail B&B, Yorkey's Knob.

One of the amazing beaches seen during our sailing trip through the Whitsunday Islands.
Green ants (taste like limes according to Robert) and the leaf nests they make... standing on guard ready to attack me if I got any closer...

Our ship, the Solway Lass, over 100 years old (and still solid!)

Crazy squiggly bark on a eucalyptus tree, Fraser Island


Happy on Fraser Island
Crazy feeding/filter balls from different sized crabs, Fraser Island

One staghorn fern, out of about 10 other similarly massive ones that were all perched on a huge tree.  It's about43' across at least...
 Then we finished out at Lake Tekapo back in New Zealand for some amazing dark sky star watching.  Google for "Fraser Gunn Astrophotography" to get a look at what we were seeing... he's a friend of Robert's that does a lot of observing and photographing of the night sky.

Lake Tekapo... by twilight.


Heading off to a couple of weeks at Mesopotamia Station, a sheep station (or ranch as we call it in the states) in the high foothills of NZ's southern alps.... then finally back to the states in early January.  Yahoo for all of it!